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MEALS OF OUR CHILDREN by Will Gilmer

I put chicken breasts next to the eggs to thaw and wonder if these eggs were born from the birds whose bodies will become my dinner. I pull out oil from olives that will never become trees and baby bean sprouts who will never know pods of their own.

I make double in case Trevor decides to come down for dinner. I know it’ll matter on how many pills he took, how much he slept today, and if he’s even here. When he vanishes I “run the circuit”, drive from flop house to flop house scanning over the buffet of now familiar faces until I find his.

Each time a little more of him is gone, consumed by a hunger no home cooked meal can sate.

Gnaw marks, like the ones on his old teething ring, appeared when the doctor gave him Tramadol after hurting his shoulder during the Homecoming game. Incisors scars ran up his arms when they moved him to Norco after X-Rays showed a labrum tear. Now I’m losing him, one mouthful at a time, as broken needle teeth pile up next to the burnt spoon on his dresser.

I try to make him unappetizing; season him with love, baste him with therapy, dredge him in rehab. But he was too tasty from the start.

I know the day will come when I’ll run the circuit for the last time. I’ll find him like leftovers; cold, flavorless, forgotten. In those dark hours after the “I’m sorrys” and the “If there’s anything I can dos”, after the hushed whispers of “He should have been a better dad”, it’ll lick its lips and come for me.

I’ll make the perfect dessert.

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